labour power

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labour power

  1. a general term for those employed within an organization.
  2. (MARXISM) the capacity to work which is bought and employed by capitalists and from which the capitalist extracts SURPLUS VALUE (see also LABOUR THEORY OF VALUE). The distinction made by MARX between labour’ and ‘labour power’ is an important one in Marx's economics and his theory of CAPITALISM AND CAPITALIST MODE OF PRODUCTION (see ALTHUSSER and Balibar, 1968; Hodgson, 1982). Unlike labour, labour power can be traded in a market and is an object of possession. Under capitalism, the hiring of labour power, involves an agreement by the worker to submit to the employer's authority for a set period of time. The employer then has freedom to use this labour power, and the surplus product created, as he wishes. It is this labour power which is the source of surplus value.
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000
References in periodicals archive ?
And, in a division of labour, this labour-power is tied to the specialised use of a single tool.
As the ratio between constant capital and variable capital shifted in favour of constant capital, this led to the associated tendency for the rate of profit to fall, as evidenced in lower extraction of gold per unit of labour-power from mechanised mining than from surface mining.
As Rikowski (2001) points out, 'Capital moves, but not of its own accord: the mental and physical capabilities of workers (labour-power) enable these movements through their expression in labour.
He was cognizant of Marx's (1976b, 313) countless indications that: "In the chapters on the production of surplus-value it was constantly presupposed that wages are at least equal to the value of labour-power. Forcible reduction of wages below this value plays, however, in practice too important a part....
The value of labour-power is determined, as in the case of every other commodity, by the labour-time necessary for the production, and consequently also the reproduction, of this special article.
As Friedrich Engels (1891) put it, "The rock upon which the best economists were stranded as long as they started out from the value of labour, vanishes as soon as we make our starting-point the value of labour-power" (1976, p.
The capitalist does not pay just for labour, but also for the utilization of labour-power. Labour-power is the worker's capability to transform the object into use-value.
However, as Michael Perelman has demonstrated, Smith recognised that an open exchange between buyers and sellers of labour-power was insufficient without discipline and control.
Yet only once the category of labour-power has been explicitly derived, does it become clear how the dichotomies that seem firm and fixed at the beginning of the text, come to be destabilised and undermined as the analysis moves to other dimensions of the reproduction of capital.
In other words, workerism revitalizes the Marxian thesis whereby the parameters of the capitalist domination and exploitation of labour-power and the extraction of surplus-value are political through and through.
Again, it is not a question of denying labourers all subjectivity, but of seeing capital's commodification of labour-power as successfully channelling that subjectivity into channels supportive of profit maximization.
For Marx, capitalists sell a product in the market at a higher value than the sum of value they give to workers for their labour-power. This quantitative aspect of exploitation is addressed in Sorensen's discussion of rent appropriated by the owner of rent producing assets at the expense of non-owners.